Winnipeg is only home to 2 casinos, but a recent change will make those casinos more accessible to players on weekends. Manitoba’s department of Liquor and Lotteries is allowing both of Winnipeg’s casinos—McPhillips Station and Club Regent—to stay open for 24 hours on weekends. The program will begin on the first weekend in December and is currently being treated as a pilot more than anything else. Should the 24-hour, Saturday/Sunday operation prove to be a success, then the discussion will move towards 24 hour operations every day of the week.
Before this decision was made, the two aforementioned casinos were only operating between the hours of 10AM and 3AM. Starting December 2nd, both casinos will open at 10AM and remain opened until 3AM the following Monday. A Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries spokesperson commented on the change by saying, “We decided that we would operate a pilot 24-hour weekends and the reason we did that is we find that we have high visitation, and our most popular times are on weekends. So we decided to implement the pilot specifically for that reason.”
MLL went on to explain that, typically, when the casinos close up shop on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 3AM there are often 300+ people still on the casino floor playing games. Previously, these people were forced to stop what they were doing and leave the premises. Now there is a bit more freedom.
The pilot program will be conducted for 4 straight months, during which time the results will be closely watched. Naturally, those concerned with problem gamblers and gambling addicts fear that increased accessibility will only work to fan the flames of addiction. While this is a logical thought, the reality of the matter is that an overwhelming majority of problem gamblers never attempt to seek help, even when problem gambling help hotlines and resources are posted all over the casinos. So while it may be easy to assume that increased casino hours will increase problem gambling, this is not something that has been proven.
The next 4 months are definitely going to be interesting and we will keep a close eye on any and all happenings from Manitoba. Something we haven’t heard discussed all that readily is the financial impact the expanded hours will have. Naturally, both casinos are going to see revenues increased, but the real question is whether those increased revenues financially justify keeping the casinos open for what amounts to 14+ hours per weekend. This is something else that will be eyed closely as this 4-month pilot plays ou